vs. Interpretation




Ian Mikyska

Lines and Sounds: Hermeneutics of Multimedia Improvisation


Ian Mikyska is a composer, improviser and writer with Czech roots, currently living and working between London and Prague. His main interests, both artistic and academic, lie in the connection between music and meaning, other media, and relational aspects of artistic and non-artistic practice. As might be expected, he has worked in a variety of media, from pure music (commissions from the Ostrava Days festival, CoMA Summer Music and Strings of Autumn Festival among others), through theatrical performances (productions with Blood, Love & Rhetoric Theatre, Akanda Theatre and others, as both composer, author and director) to purely text or graphic based work (graphical and musical poems set to be published in Psí víno and VLAK). In 2014, he co-founded the inter-arts collective hra94 (game94), which takes as the basis of its program intermedia and collective improvisation, as well as serving a platform that endorses smaller and more specifically oriented projects or collectives such as Stratocluster. Hra94 is currently working on editing its first feature-length film, shot at an all-night participative performance evening that took place in Prague in June 2014. He studies with James Weeks at the Guildhall School of Music, and is currently spending a year in Prague working on theatrical projects and several commissions. He is generously supported by the Guildhall Trust and the Strings of Autumn Music Festival.

Ian Mikyska delivered this presentation at the vs. Interpretation Festival and Symposium in July 2014.

In this presentation, I propose an immediate interpretive approach to multimedia improvisation, specifically involving sonic and visual media, based on Nicholas Cook’s work on theory of multimedia and Lawrence Kramer’s approach to interpretation. The presentation takes the form of a lecture-performance of approximately 45 minutes, with approximately half the time being occupied by improvised per- formances by Stratocluster, a Prague-based improvising sextet. I take as a basic starting point Cook’s use of metaphorical map- ping as a basic process in multimedia. He describes the relationships in which different media can exist, and I extend his thinking to the relationship between the subjectivities of the individual improvisers.

Jean Jacques Nattiez describes analysis of music as pertaining to either the poietic, neutral or esthesic level, and I propose a model of multimedia improvisation which treats every improviser as a poietic force, the end result therefore being a combination of more than two continua which can – but don’t have to – enter into the relationships described by Cook. I also expand on how this model might prove useful for forms of interpretation and analysis that don’t prioritise the composer above all else, as it engenders a way of thinking about interpretation of multi-poietic productions that could be extended to traditionally notated music.